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Siu Mai: Pork and Prawn Dumplings

Learn how to make the dumplings that are adored the world over

You’re struggling to hear the conversation at your own table because everyone’s yapping loudly over everyone else.

With two hands you pick up the snow white teapot and start to pour for your elders, but alas this one has a leaky spout. The tablecloth ends up drinking most of the tieguanyin.

There’s a clinking together of dirty china as the waitress clears the adjacent table at breakneck speed. Seconds later, she’s masterfully resetting the bowls, plates, and chopsticks for a large group of gossipy old ladies.

Your belly rumbles as the cart trundles closer, bringing with it hot trays of freshly baked pastries and high towers of bamboo steamers all stacked full of dim sum.

The waitress lists her offerings, occasionally lifting the lids for a cheeky peek inside. Dishes are rejected and chosen, the bowls shifted around to make space on the rickety table. Your glasses fog up with steam, and you thank your lucky stars that you wore your loosest trousers for the occasion.

This is the chaotic but much-treasured scene of yum cha. 

Yum cha, which literally means ‘drink tea’, is the time-honoured Cantonese version of morning tea. Many little dishes, called dim sum (literally, ‘to touch the heart’) are served with teas such as tieguanyin and pu’erh, which purportedly aid in the digestion of the rich foods.

We’ve frequented yum cha establishments with the family for as long as we can remember. In New Zealand, we’d often go for yum cha when it rained on Sundays, meaning we couldn’t set up shop ourselves at the market. In Hong Kong, top dim sum chefs ensure that the yum cha experience is as much a visual delight as it is an indulgence of the tastebuds. And of course, it is always a joy to partake in yum cha in London’s bustling Chinatown.

Today we’re sharing a recipe for our little brother Justin’s favourite dim sum, the siu mai (aka shumai). This open-top pork and prawn dumpling looks like a little nugget of gold when it emerges from the steamer. Siu mai are also easy to wrap, and you’ll find that the filling is very flavoursome – so much so that we definitely recommend forgoing the dipping sauces this time.

Serves
Makes 10-12 dumplings
Ingredients

10-12 wonton wrappers

For the filling
100g pork loin
50g raw prawns, peeled
1 dried Chinese mushroom, soaked in hot water for 30 min, then diced
1 slice ginger, diced

For the marinade
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch pepper
1/8 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cornflour
3/4 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 1/2 tsp water
1 tsp sesame oil

For the garnish
1 cm carrot,  very small dice

You’re struggling to hear the conversation at your own table because everyone’s yapping loudly over everyone else.

With two hands you pick up the snow white teapot and start to pour for your elders, but alas this one has a leaky spout. The tablecloth ends up drinking most of the tieguanyin.

There’s a clinking together of dirty china as the waitress clears the adjacent table at breakneck speed. Seconds later, she’s masterfully resetting the bowls, plates, and chopsticks for a large group of gossipy old ladies.

Your belly rumbles as the cart trundles closer, bringing with it hot trays of freshly baked pastries and high towers of bamboo steamers all stacked full of dim sum.

The waitress lists her offerings, occasionally lifting the lids for a cheeky peek inside. Dishes are rejected and chosen, the bowls shifted around to make space on the rickety table. Your glasses fog up with steam, and you thank your lucky stars that you wore your loosest trousers for the occasion.

This is the chaotic but much-treasured scene of yum cha. 

Yum cha, which literally means ‘drink tea’, is the time-honoured Cantonese version of morning tea. Many little dishes, called dim sum (literally, ‘to touch the heart’) are served with teas such as tieguanyin and pu’erh, which purportedly aid in the digestion of the rich foods.

We’ve frequented yum cha establishments with the family for as long as we can remember. In New Zealand, we’d often go for yum cha when it rained on Sundays, meaning we couldn’t set up shop ourselves at the market. In Hong Kong, top dim sum chefs ensure that the yum cha experience is as much a visual delight as it is an indulgence of the tastebuds. And of course, it is always a joy to partake in yum cha in London’s bustling Chinatown.

Today we’re sharing a recipe for our little brother Justin’s favourite dim sum, the siu mai (aka shumai). This open-top pork and prawn dumpling looks like a little nugget of gold when it emerges from the steamer. Siu mai are also easy to wrap, and you’ll find that the filling is very flavoursome – so much so that we definitely recommend forgoing the dipping sauces this time.

GET THE METHOD →

Dice up the pork loin before proceeding to a d’huk it. Essentially, this means hacking it up into smaller pieces (see video). This is a good way to let off some steam. Chop prawns into small pieces, and d’huk lightly.
To a large bowl, add pork, ginger and mushroom. Leave out the prawn at this stage. Add all of the marinade ingredients except for sesame oil.
Using your chopsticks, begin to mix the filling. Keep mixing vigorously in one direction so that the meat begins to bind together, about 2 minutes. Add prawn and sesame oil, and gently mix to combine. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour.
Use a cookie cutter (approx. 8cm diameter) to cut circles out of the wonton wrappers. See the video for detailed instructions on how to wrap sexy siu mai with hourglass curves to rival Sofia’s!
Add a few pieces of carrot to each dumpling before steaming the whole lot over vigorously boiling water for seven minutes.
OUR
TIP!
If you are using a bamboo steamer, line the base with lightly greased parchment paper to stop the siu mai from sticking. Don’t have a steamer? No worries! Check out the video for alternative methods of steaming with other kitchen kit.
  • Robert Meister

    I love your show, especially all the hilarious out-takes you use… and, of course, I love oriental cooking. Keep it up.

  • I love your show concepts! brava!!! keep it up. and your steamer alternatives really saved my life!!! 🙂

  • Great video! And awesome blog! 😀

    -Gideon

  • May I ask if it is alright to put the meat in the food processor than hacking it up in smaller pieces or maybe use ground pork?

    • Yes of course! You just have a bit more control when you use a knife or clever, but as long as you stop before the meat goes to a paste then you’re all good. Ground pork is cool too, you’ll just lose some of the texture. We sometimes use ground pork ourselves when we’re in a hurry, or we have to make loads of them at once (like 200!). Good luck! A&J x

  • Ada

    Just made a batch of siu mai following you recipe. Tastes fantastic! Only question I have is.. how come my siu mai skins all sag after steaming and yours doesn’t? They look fine pre-steaming but after they come out of the steamer the wonton wrappers all sag quite a bit and come loose easily when I try to pick them up with my chopsticks. Am I not putting in enough filling or wrapping them hard enough?

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  • Hi guys! I just wanted to let you know I tried out this recipe on the weekend and it was fantastic! I’ve just started my own food and travel blog of sorts, and so I made a wee little post about it 🙂

    • We’re SUPER sorry for not seeing this sooner! Glad you enjoyed the siu mai and thanks for sharing our recipe. Looks like you’re having some amazing food adventures!

  • Adam

    Really really wonderful video! Dim sum recipes can sometimes be so obtuse and you guys made this really accessible (and really fun to watch!) Thank you! 🙂

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  • Miriam

    Delicious recipe ladies! It was super easy to follow and it tastes authentic.

  • Wes

    The recipe is delicious of course, but your description of the dim sum meal is what really made me smile! Sounds like many meals I’ve been to, especially the part about trying to pour tea for others and then spilling it all over the place. 🙂

    • Yes it’s all such a ritual and always reminds us of family time (and long lazy lunches!) xx

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  • My husband and I loved this recipe! Thanks for this! =) It was the first one I saw that didn’t use ground pork. My first attempt was with ground pork and it didn’t turn out quite right. My father-in-law (he’s chinese) said it’s better if you chop up pork instead. Grateful to have found this recipe! =)

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  • Littlecook

    Hi from Mount Maunganui, New Zealand!

    Fantastic recipe, thank you – and such a great video! I made these tonight and they were just delicious :-).

    I look forward to trying more of your recipes, many thanks!

    • Thank *you* for visiting! 🙂 Yep siu mai are irresistible, very happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe 🙂

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  • Kate Brodhurst

    Hi, Just wondering, if Im making say 6 times the recipe, can I add 6 times the baking soda or will you taste it? Should I scale it down a little? Thank you

    • dumplingsisters

      Hi Kate, hope your mega batch of dumplings went well! I’ve always found that scaling up is not as straightforward as multiplying the quantities unfortunately. You almost always need to use less seasonings (but sometimes more, it’s bizarre!).

      I’d suggest using only 75% of the fully multiplied amounts initially, and cook a small amount to check for taste. As the bicarb is for tenderising instead of taste, I’d start with 50% of the amount first. If you feel the mouthfeel is still too rough in your tester, then add a bit more as needed. There’s no scientific method…other than experimenting!

      Most importantly…remember to write down the scaled up recipe so you can use it again later 😉

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